What not to buy now: the six types of London home that may turn out to be a bad investment

Few people are currently putting their homes up for sale, and house prices are on the rise — up GBP11,000 in February alone, according the latest Land Registry figures. It can be frustrating to find homes that are too expensive or no properties available if you are in a position to purchase now. You shouldn’t be tempted to make a bad purchase out of desperation. It’s easier to wait than to buy. Buyers have become more concerned about outside space in recent years. This is true whether they want a private or shared garden, or a balcony or terrace. A better investment will be a home that is more desirable. After helping a client buy a new house, they asked us to help them sell their flat in central London. They would have to sell the flat at a substantial loss in the current market as it had no outside space and was not able to work from home. We advised them to wait for the demand for city-center flats to return to pre-pandemic levels. Properties that have not been modernized should be more affordable than a turnkey house, but buyers beware! This is not always true in a market with limited supply. There is little difference in the price of a home that needs major renovations and one that is more up-to-date in some areas like Notting Hill. It is crucial to do your own calculations and get detailed quotes before you make an offer on an unmodernized property. This is independent of the estimate from an estate agent. Due to Brexit, inflation rises and the Ukraine conflict, renovation costs have risen significantly. This could make your bargain home purchase far more expensive than you expected and leave you living on a construction site. Before you submit an offer, you should seek the advice of a specialist planning consultant. Even small changes such as replacing carpet with wood floors in an apartment can be complicated and may be prohibited by some leases. Ex-rental flatsThere is a lot of ex rental properties available right now, as private landlords are leaving the buy-to-let market. If a property seems extremely cheap, it is likely that there is a reason. You should be aware of cladding issues, lacks of outside space, distance from parks/green spaces, transport links, and overall density of flats within the immediate area. We have seen some of the worst examples for sale in older, more densely built buildings (over 10 years old), in secondary areas far from transport links. These flats can sit on the market for up to a year without any sign of a buyer. Do not let this happen to you. Property with a poor EPC rating Currently, domestic private rental properties must meet minimum energy efficiency standards; an EPC rating rating of E. However from 2025 all new rented properties will need to have a certification rating C or higher. Existing tenants will have to comply until 2028. We recommend that new buyers to the buy-to–let market look for properties with a C or higher rating. This is a crucial consideration when it comes to running costs, as energy bills are expected to rise. Tube- or train-affected property This is often not mentioned in agents’ particulars. Make sure you look at the location of tube lines and spend some time in the property to verify for noise. It is important to get to know the area around the property before you make a decision about buying. It is a good idea to visit the property at different times of the day, even if you cannot book multiple viewings. A client of ours visited a property at night a few years ago after previously viewing it in the morning. Our clients were shocked to discover that the property was overcrowded with people returning home from work at rush hour. The street was also extremely noisy. This is especially important when buying in London, as traffic and public transport can vary depending on the hour. Do not be fooled into believing that you can flip a property and make quick money. Stamp duty and legal fees are additional costs that will add thousands of pounds to your mortgage and deposit. You should look over five years to see meaningful price growth.